Crowdfunding

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Crowdfunding is the collection of finance to sustain an initiative from a large pool of backers—the "crowd"—usually made online by means of a web platform. The initiative could be a nonprofit campaign (e.g. to raise funds for a school or social service organization), a political campaign (to support a candidate or political party), a philanthropic campaign (e.g. for emergency funds for an ill person or to produce an emerging artist), a commercial campaign (e.g. to create and sell a new product) or a financing campaign for a start-up company.

Crowdfunding has its origins in the concept of crowdsourcing, which is the broader concept of an individual reaching a goal by receiving and leveraging small contributions from many parties. Crowdfunding is the application of this concept to the collection of funds through small contributions from many parties in order to finance a particular project or venture.[1] According to WordSpy.com, the earliest recorded use of the word "crowdfunding" was by Michael Sullivan in fundavlog[2] in August 2006.[3]

Crowdfunding models involve a variety of participants.[4] They include the people or organizations that propose the ideas and/or projects to be funded, and the crowd of people who support the proposals. Crowdfunding is then supported by an organization (the "platform") which brings together the project initiator and the crowd.

History[edit]

An early precursor of the crowdfunding business model was Praenumeration, a subscription business model, which was used in the 17th century to finance book prints. Similar to crowdfunding, an additional benefit to donors was offered like a mention on the title page.

In 1884, the American Committee for the Statue of Liberty ran out of funds for the Statue’s pedestal. Newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer urged the American public to donate money toward the pedestal in his newspaper New York World. Pulitzer raised over $100,000 in six months. More than 125,000 people contributed to the cause, with most donations being $1 or less.[5][6]

In 1997, fans underwrote an entire U.S. tour for the British rock group Marillion, raising $60,000 in donations by means of a fan-based Internet campaign.[7][8] The idea was conceived and managed by fans without any involvement by the band,[9] although Marillion has since used this method with great success as a way to fund the recording and marketing of its albums, like Anoraknophobia (2001), Marbles (2004), Happiness is the Road (2008), and Sounds That Can't Be Made (2012).[10]

ArtistShare, based in the United States, referred to as "a pioneering crowd-financing platform", was launched in October 2003,[11][12] followed later by sites such as ChipIn (2005), EquityNet (2005),[13] Pledgie (2006), Sellaband (2006), IndieGoGo (2008), GiveForward (2008), FundRazr (2009), Kickstarter (2009), RocketHub (2009), Fundly (2009), GoFundMe (2010), Appsplit (2010), Microventures (2010), and Fundageek (2011).[14][15]

Electric Eel Shock, a Japanese rock band who has toured the world, became one of the first bands without a previous significant recording deal to fully embrace crowdfunding. As an unsigned band in 2004 they raised £10,000 from 100 fans (the Samurai 100) by offering them guestlist for life.[16] Two years later they became the fastest band to raise a $50,000 budget through SellaBand.[17] They licensed the album internationally, and to Universal in their native Japan.

In the film industry, independent writer/director Mark Tapio Kines designed a website for his then-unfinished first feature Foreign Correspondents in 1997. By early 1999, he had raised more than $125,000 over the Internet from at least 25 fans, providing him with the funds to complete his film.[18] Franny Armstrong later created a donation system for her feature film The Age of Stupid.[19] Over five years, from June 2004 to June 2009 (release date), she raised £1,500,000.[20] In December 2004, French entrepreneurs and producers Benjamin Pommeraud and Guillaume Colboc, launched a public Internet donation campaign [21] to fund their short science fiction film, Demain la Veille (Waiting for Yesterday). Within a month, they managed to raise €17,000 online, allowing them to shoot their film.

The highest reported funding by a crowdfunded project to date is Star Citizen, an online space trading and combat video game being developed by Chris Roberts and Cloud Imperium Games,[22] which—as of 10 March 2014—claimed to have raised USD$40,000,000, beating the previous record of $10,266,844 set by Pebble Watch.[23]

Crowdfunding websites helped companies and individuals worldwide raise $89 million from members of the public in 2010, $1.47 billion in 2011 and $2.66 billion in 2012 (from which $1.6 billion was raised in North America).[24] In 2012 there were more than 1 million individual campaigns globally.[25] In 2013 the industry is projected to grow to $5.1 billion.[25]

Types of Crowdfunding[edit]

Depending on the kind of reward that the backers agree to receive upon giving money, one can distinguish between at least three types of Crowdfunding. -1- Donation-based Crowdfunding, in which the backers essentially donate money to support a cause. Sometimes he/she may receive in exchange a "thank you", a special mention, or even a gadget, but in any case the pledge is essentially a gratuity. -2- Reward-based Crowdfunding, in which the backer receives a reward with a clear monetary value in exchange of the pledge. The reward is often a product or a pre-series item that the backer helped producing by pledging money. In this case the money pledged is similar to paying for a pre-order of a product or service. -3- Credit-based Crowdfunding (more commonly called Peer-to-peer lending or "Crowd-lending"), in which the backer lends the money and receives an interest rate in exchage. In this case the money is pledged in the form of a credit loan. -4- Equity-based Crowdfunding, in which the backer receives shares of a company in exchange of the money pledged. In this case the money is pledged in the form of risk capital.

Donation-based crowdfunding and reward-based crowdfunding were established before equity-based crowdfunding and are in practice the most widespread forms of crowdfunding. They are used in practice to support of a wide variety of activities, including disaster relief, citizen journalism, support of creative ventures, support of artists by fans, political campaigns, startup company funding,[26] motion picture promotion,[27] free software development, inventions development, scientific research,[28] and civic projects.[29]

Credit-based crowdfunding from non-banks is gaining momentum globally as banks have increased interest rates or pulled back from lending to consumers and small businesses; however, as of early 2012, the non-bank sector of crowd lending is yet to be considered a threat to the big consumer lending businesses of the largest global banks.[30]

'Equity Crowdfunding (alternately equity 'crowd financing, equity crowdfunding, crowd equity, crowd-sourced fundraising) is the collective effort of individuals who network and pool their money, usually via the Internet, to support efforts initiated by other people or organizations by providing finance in the form of equity.[31][32] Equity crowdfunding can also refer to the funding of a company by selling small amounts of equity to many investors. At the moment Equity Crowdfunding is the least developed form of Crowdfunding. In part this is due to the legal liability that the collection of equity raises, which in many countries would not be legal, unless a specific regulation is set in place. Regulations of Equity Crowdfunding has recently received attention from policymakers in a number of countries beginning from 2012-2013. In the United States with direct mention in the 2012 JOBS Act, legislation that allows for a wider pool of small investors with fewer restrictions.[32] While the JOBS Act awaits implementation, hybrid models, such as Mosaic Inc., are using existing securities laws to enable the public in approved states to invest directly in projects as part of a crowd. Italy had a fully implemented law for Equity Crowdfunding since July 2013.

Role of the crowd[edit]

The inputs of the individuals in the crowd trigger the crowdfunding process and influence the ultimate value of the offerings or outcomes of the process. Each individual acts as an agent of the offering, selecting and promoting the projects in which they believe. They will sometimes play a donor role oriented towards providing help on social projects. In some cases they will become shareholders and contribute to the development and growth of the offering. Each individual disseminates information about projects they support in their online communities, generating further support (promoters).

Motivation for consumer participation stems from the feeling of being at least partly responsible for the success of others’ initiatives (desire for patronage), striving to be a part of a communal social initiative (desire for social participation), and seeking a payoff from monetary contributions (desire for investment).[4]

An individual who takes part in crowdfunding initiatives tends to reveal several distinct traits: innovative orientation, which stimulates the desire to try new modes of interacting with firms and other consumers; social identification with the content, cause or project selected for funding, which sparks the desire to be a part of the initiative; (monetary) exploitation, which motivates the individual to participate by expecting a payoff.[4][32]

Crowdfunding platforms[edit]

As of 2012, there were over 450 crowdfunding platforms.[33] Project creators need to do their own due diligence in order to understand which platform is the best to use depending on the type of project that they want to launch.[32] There are fundamental differences in the services provided by many crowdfunding platforms.[4]

For instance, CrowdCube and Seedrs are both Internet platforms which enable small companies to issue shares over the Internet and receive small investments from registered users in return. While CrowdCube is meant for users to invest small amounts and acquire shares directly in start-up companies, Seedrs on the other hand pools the funds to invest in new businesses, as a nominated agent.[34]

Crowdfunding platforms serve as a "network orchestrators". They create the necessary organizational systems and conditions for resource integration among other players to take place.[4]

Relational mediators act as an intermediary between supply and demand (e.g., SellaBand, Kickstarter). They replace traditional intermediaries (such as traditional record companies, venture capitalists). These platforms link new artists, designers, project initiators with committed supporters who believe in the persons behind the projects strongly enough to provide monetary support.

Growth engines focus on the strong inclusion of investors. They dis-intermediate by eliminating the activity of a service provider previously involved in the network. The platforms that use crowdfunding to seek stakes from a community of high net worth, private investors and match them directly with project initiators.

Crowdfunding applications[edit]

Crowdfunding is being experimented with as a funding mechanism for creative work such as blogging and journalism,[35] music, independent film,[36][37] and for funding startup companies.[38][39][40][41] Community music labels are usually for-profit organizations where "fans assume the traditional financier role of a record label for artists they believe in by funding the recording process".[42]

Since pioneering crowdfunding in the film industry, Spanner Films has published a "how to" guide.[43] A Financialist article published in mid-September 2013 stated that "the niche for crowdfunding exists in financing films with budgets in the [US]$1 to $10 million range" and crowdfunding campaigns are "much more likely to be successful if they tap into a significant pre-existing fan base and fulfill an existing gap in the market."[44] Innovative new platforms, such as RocketHub, have emerged that combine traditional funding for creative work with branded crowdsourcing—helping artists and entrepreneurs unite with brands "without the need for a middle man."[45]

Philanthropy and civic projects[edit]

A variety of crowdfunding platforms have emerged to allow ordinary web users to support specific philanthropic projects without the need for large amounts of money.[29]

Global Giving allows individuals to browse through a selection of small projects proposed by nonprofit organizations worldwide, donating funds to projects of their choice. Microcredit crowdfunding platforms such as Kiva (organization) and Wokai facilitate crowdfunding of loans managed by microcredit organizations in developing countries.

The US-based nonprofit Zidisha offers a new twist on these themes, applying a direct person-to-person lending model to microcredit lending for low-income small business owners in developing countries. Zidisha borrowers who pass a background check may post microloan applications directly on the Zidisha website, specifying proposed credit terms and interest rates. Individual web users in the US and Europe can lend as little as one US dollar, and Zidisha's crowdfunding platform allows lenders and borrowers to engage in direct dialogue. Repaid principal and interest is returned to the lenders, who may withdraw the cash or use it to fund new loans.[46]

DonorsChoose.org, founded in 2000, allows public school teachers in the United States to request materials for their classrooms. Individuals can lend money to teacher-proposed projects, and the organization fulfills and delivers supplies to schools. There are also a number of own-branded university crowdfunding websites, which enable students and staff to create projects and receive funding from alumni of the university or the general public.

Several dedicated civic crowdfunding platforms have emerged in the US and the UK, some of which have led to the first direct involvement of governments in crowdfunding.

Intellectual property exposure[edit]

One of the challenges of posting new ideas on crowdfunding sites is there may be little or no intellectual property (IP) protection provided by the sites themselves. Once an idea is posted, it can be copied. As Slava Rubin, founder of IndieGoGo said: “We get asked that all the time, ‘How do you protect me from someone stealing my idea?’ We’re not liable for any of that stuff.”[47] Inventor advocates, such as Simon Brown, founder of the UK-based United Innovation Association, counsel that ideas can be protected on crowdfunding sites through early filing of patent applications, use of copyright and trademark protection as well as a new form of idea protection supported by the World Intellectual Property Organization called Creative Barcode.[48]

Patent disputes[edit]

On September 30, 2011, the crowdfunding site Kickstarter filed a request for declaratory judgment against Fan Funded who owns U.S. patent US 7885887 , "Methods and apparatuses for financing and marketing a creative work". Brian Camelio, founder of ArtistShare, is the inventor on the patent. Kickstarter says it believes it is under threat of a patent infringement lawsuit. Kickstarter has asked that the patent be invalidated, or, at the very least, that the court find that Kickstarter is not liable for infringement.[49][50]

In February 2012, Fan Funded responded to Kickstarter's complaint notably claiming that patent infringement litigation was never threatened, that "ArtistShare merely approached KickStarter about licensing their platform, including patent rights", and that "rather than responding to ArtistShare's request for a counter-proposal, Kickstarter filed this lawsuit."[51]

Pros and cons[edit]

Benefits for the creator[edit]

Crowdfunding campaigns provide producers with a number of benefits, beyond the strict financial gains.[52] The following are non financial benefits of crowdfunding.

  • Profile – a compelling project can raise a producer's profile and provide a boost to their reputation.
  • Marketing – project initiators can show there is an audience and market for their project. In the case of an unsuccessful campaign, it provides good market feedback.
  • Audience engagement – crowd funding creates a forum where project initiators can engage with their audiences. Audience can engage in the production process by following progress through updates from the creators and sharing feedback via comment features on the project's crowdfunding page.
  • Feedback – offering pre-release access to content or the opportunity to beta-test content to project backers as a part of the funding incentives provides the project initiators with instant access to good market testing feedback.

Proponents of the crowdfunding approach argue that it allows good ideas which do not fit the pattern required by conventional financiers to break through and attract cash through the wisdom of the crowd. If it does achieve "traction" in this way, not only can the enterprise secure seed funding to begin its project, but it may also secure evidence of backing from potential customers and benefit from word of mouth promotion in order to reach the fundraising goal.[32] Another potential positive effect is the propensity of groups to "produce an accurate aggregate prediction" about market outcomes as identified by author James Surowiecki in his book The wisdom of crowds, thereby placing financial backing behind ventures likely to succeed.

Proponents also identify a potential outcome of crowdfunding as an exponential increase in available venture capital. One report claims that If every American family gave one percent of their investable assets to crowdfunding, $300 billion (a 10X increase) would come into venture capital.[53] Proponents also cite that a benefit for companies receiving crowdfunding support is that they retain control of their operations, as voting rights are not conveyed along with ownership when crowdfunding.

Risks and barriers for the creator[edit]

Crowdfunding also comes with a number of potential risks or barriers.[1]

  • Reputation – failure to meet campaign goals or to generate interest result in a public failure. Reaching financial goals and successfully gathering substantial public support but being unable to deliver on a project for some reason can severely negatively impact ones reputation.
  • IP protection – many Interactive Digital Media developers and content producers are reluctant to publicly announce the details of a project before production due to concerns about idea theft and protecting their IP from plagiarism.[1]
  • Donor exhaustion – there is a risk that if the same network of supporters is reached out to multiple times, that network will eventually cease to supply necessary support.
  • Public fear of abuse – concern among supporters that without a regulatory framework, the likelihood of a scam of abuse of funds is high. The concern may become a barrier to public engagement.

For crowdfunding of equity stock purchases, there is some research in social psychology that indicates that, like in all investments, people don't always do their due diligence to determine if it's a sound investment before investing, which leads to making investment decisions based on emotion rather than financial logic.[54]

Crowdfunding draws a crowd: investors and other interested observers who follow the progress, or lack of progress, of a project. Sometimes it proves easier to raise the money for a project than to make the project a success. Managing communications with a large number of possibly disappointed investors and supporters can be a substantial, and potentially diverting, task.[55]

Equity crowdfunding[edit]

Investment crowdfunding can breach various securities laws, because soliciting investments from the general public is often illegal, unless the opportunity has been filed with an appropriate securities regulatory authority, such as the Securities and Exchange Commission in the U.S., the Ontario Securities Commission in Ontario, Canada, the Autorité des marchés financiers in France and Quebec, Canada, or the Financial Services Authority in the U.K. These regulators have different ways of determining what is and what is not a security but a general rule one can rely on (at least in the U.S.) is the Howey Test. The Howey Test says that a transaction constitutes an investment contract (therefore a security) if there is (1) an exchange of money (2) with an expectation of profits arising (3) from a common enterprise (4) which depends solely on the efforts of a promoter or third party. Any crowdfunding arrangement in which investors are asked to contribute money in exchange for potential profits based on the work of others would be considered a security. As such, the applicable investment contract would have to be registered with a regulatory agency, unless it qualified for one of several exemptions (e.g., Regulation A or Rule 506 of Regulation D of the Securities Act of 1933, or the California Limited Offering Exemption – Rule 1001 (also known as S.E.C. Rule 1001)). The penalties for a securities violation can vary greatly and depend on the amount of profit obtained by the "promoter," the damage done to the investors, and whether a violation is a first time offense. According to Section 5 of the Securities Act, it is illegal to sell any security unless such a sale is accompanied or preceded by a prospectus that meets the requirements of the Securities Act.[56]

Selling investments via crowdfunding has been called crowdfund investing,[57] crowdinvesting,[58] or even simply crowdfunding, as in "legalize crowdfunding".[59] Some have called for standardization of the terminology in a way that distinguishes the practice from other forms of crowdfunding.[60] Investment crowdfunding can be debt-based or equity-based, or can follow other models, including profit-sharing and hybrid models.

Debt crowdfunding allows a group of lenders to lend funds to individuals or businesses in return for interest payment on top of capital repayments. Also known as Peer to peer lending or Peer to business lending. Borrowers must demonstrate creditworthiness and the capability to repay the debt, making it unsuitable for NINA or startups. [61]

'Equity crowdfunding'(also known as hyperfunding)[62] is a mechanism that enables broad groups of investors to fund startup companies and small businesses in return for equity. Investors give money to a business and receive ownership of a small piece of that business. If the business succeeds, then its value goes up – and so does the value of a share in that business. The converse is also true. Coverage of equity crowdfunding indicates that its potential is greatest with startup businesses, who are seeking smaller investments to launch and that follow-on funding (required for rapid growth) may come from other sources.[63] The UK has been an early adopter of equity crowdfunding through sites like Seedrs, Crowdcube and BankToTheFuture.

Australia[edit]

Crowdfunding as a discrete activity is not prohibited in Australia when raising funds with donations. The provisions of the Corporations Act need to be considered if raising funds with either debt or equity.[64]

New Zealand[edit]

New Zealand enacted the legal framework for equity crowdfunding in 2013 [65] and at least one platform (Snowball Effect) is expected to go live in 2014. The regulations allow each New Zealand company to raise up to $2 million in any 12 months from the New Zealand public through a licensed equity crowdfunding platform without the usual offer document prescribed under securities law.

Canada[edit]

Although Canada has its own crowdfunding portals, none of these currently allow equity crowdfunding. In June 2013, the Ontario Securities Commission announced that it was allowing an Ontario-only portal for accredited investors.[66] The province of Saskatchewan made equity crowdfunding legal in December 2013.[67]

Italy[edit]

Italy has several well-functining reward-based crowdfunding websites since 2011 (e.g. www.eppela.com, www.produzionidalbasso.com). In July 2013 Italy became the first country in Europe to implement a complete regulation on equity-crowdfunding, which establishes a national registry for crowdfunding operators.[68] The first platform for equity crowdfunding went online on December 12, 2013.

Israel[edit]

Israel has yet to enact legal framework for equity crowdfunding. Therefore, any equity crowdfunding activity is currently regulated under the Israeli Securities Law which permits the offering of securities to 35 non accredited individuals and an unlimited amount of accredited investors as defined in Israel Securities Law. The Israeli Securities Authority has proposed a new regulatory framework for equity crowdfunding in Israel, which has not been adopted yet. Some of the main terms are:

  • An aggregate financing amount of up to ILS2 million over 12 months
  • Limitation of the amount to be invested by each individual to ILS10,000 unless the investor is “wealthy”
  • A sophisticated investor (as defined in the regulations) must contribute 10% of the total financing amount
  • Office of Chief Scientist approval

There is an equity crowdfunding platform called iAngels

Finland[edit]

An Equity Crowdfunding portal was launched in Finland in May 2012 by Invesdor.[69] The legal issues around donation-based crowdfunding have been under debate in Finland as its legislation[70] around this is different from most countries. However the legislation about Equity and Rewards-based Crowdfunding is more similar to the rest of Europe, and the legal situation is clear.[71] Invesdor has also started operating in Sweden[72] and has additionally opened its service to Danish and Estonian companies.[73] The Sweden-based FundedByMe also launched their Equity Crowdfunding portal in Finland in January 2013.[74]

Germany[edit]

After two smaller projects in 2010, 2011 can be considered the first successful year for crowdfunding in Germany. The largest crowdfunding project was launched by the company Brainpool in December 2011. For the movie of the successful TV series Stromberg, the company wanted to collect one million euros by March 2012,[75] and the total amount was reached within one week.[76] Since then, various national, but also regional, platforms were founded, such as Crowd Berlin, Nordstarter for Hamburg and Dresden Durchstarter.

Additional specialized niche sites, mainly for games[77] and musicians,[78] are entering the market. At the end of 2013, a new crowdfunding platform was launched called Dreamojo,[79] which lets you collect money from anyone, for anything. Dreamojo also helps you collect money through social networks.

Sweden and Norway[edit]

Crowdfunding portals have also launched in Scandinavia supporting both local language crowdfunding and English language crowdfunding. The oldest active crowdfunding platform in Sweden today is crowdculture launched in 2010. The system works with a unique hybrid mechanism where crowdfunding works as abase to crowdsource public investment decisions.[80] The donation-based CrowdFunding portal FundedByMe has been active in Sweden and Norway since 2011,[81] and Swedish crowdfunding activity is evolving in parallel to Crowdfunding in the USA with Equity-Based CrowdFunding becoming active in Sweden late in 2012.[82] Invesdor also started operating in Sweden in February 2013.[72]

Turkey[edit]

Turkey's crowdfunding platform is called FonlaBeni.[83]

United Kingdom[edit]

On 1 April 2014, the regulation of the consumer credit market will transfer from the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). This includes responsibility for regulating loan-based crowdfunding. The FCA recently published a policy statement regarding crowd funding, the document in pdf format can be found here: FCA policy.
Abundance Generation was the first debt crowdfunding platform in the United Kingdom (UK) to be regulated by the Financial Services Authority (now the Financial Conduct Authority). It was approved in July 2011 and was launched to the public in 2012.[84] Abundance Generation provides democratic finance to UK-based renewable energy developers.[85]

On 6 July 2012, Seedrs Limited was launched as the first equity crowdfunding platform to receive regulatory approval from the Financial Services Authority.[86] In August 2012, Richard Branson announced his support for crowdfunding, crowdinvesting and crowdlending platform BankToTheFuture.com in the Telegraph newspaper.[87] In February 2013, the CrowdCube equity crowdfunding platform, which was launched in 2011, was authorised by the FSA.[88]

United States[edit]

Federal Legislation[edit]

Thanks in part to the Crowdfunding exemption movement, the JOBS Act was signed into law by President Obama on April 5, 2012. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has been given approximately 270 days to set forth specific rules and guidelines that enact this legislation, while also ensuring the protection of investors.[89] Some rules have already been proposed by the SEC.[90][91]

The bill went through a number of amendments and on April 5, 2012 President Barack Obama signed the JOBS Act into law.[92] The legislation mandates that funding portals must register with the SEC as well as an applicable self-regulatory organization to operate.[93]

The JOBS Act places limits on the value of securities issuer may offer and individuals can invest through crowdfunding intermediaries. An issuer may sell up to $1,000,000 of its securities per 12 months, and, depending upon their net worth and income, investors will be permitted to invest up to $100,000 in crowdfunding issues per 12 months.[94] An independent financial statement review by a CPA firm is required for raises $100,000–500,000 and an independent financial statement audit by a CPA firm is required for raises over $500,000.[95]

On October 23, 2013, the SEC unanimously approved the progress of the crowdfunding bill and SEC commissioners explained that the commission's goals are to ease online fundraising for small companies and fraud protection for investors. As of the date of approval, the proposal is open for public comment for a 90-day period that is followed by another SEC vote to enable the enactment of the proposal.[96] In parallel to the SEC regulations, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) is creating additional rules related to member firms engaged in crowdfunding.[93]

State Legislation[edit]

Some people see the federal crowdfunding legislation as unworkable, and several U.S. states have recently enacted or are considering their own crowdfunding exemption laws, to facilitate intrastate investment offerings that are already exempt from federal (SEC) regulation.[97] These include the Invest Kansas Exemption,[98] effective August 2011, and the Invest Georgia Exemption, effective December 2012, has $1m/$10k caps.[99] Late in 2013, both Michigan [100] and Wisconsin [101] joined Kansas and Georgia. As of April 2013, the states of Washington[102] and North Carolina[103] are considering their own crowdfunding exemptions.[104] In July 2012, the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions issued an advisory, about legislation proposed, intended to allow crowdfunding to raise up to $1 million from non-accredited Wisconsin investors without audited financial statements, or up to $2 million if the issuer has audited financial statements.[105]

Crowd funding services[edit]

The JOBS Act enables equity based crowdfunding when it is conducted by a licensed broker-dealer or via a Funding Portal registered with the SEC.[106] Many Crowdfunding services have launched to fill this role, and the space is evolving rapidly. Early portal Profounder closed before SEC guidelines were released,[107] and equity portal Earlyshares acquired charity portal Helpersunite.[108] The first portal operating in the U.S. and geared towards small businesses was founded in 2010 by Alejandro Cremades and Tanya Prive and is operating under the name of Rock The Post.[109]

Crowd funding insurance[edit]

The draft SEC rules calls for portals to purchase a fidelity bond of at least $100,000. As stated by the SEC is that a "fidelity bond .. aims to protect its holder against certain types of losses, including but not limited to those caused by malfeasance of the holder's officers and employees, and the effect of such losses on the holder's capital".[110] A fidelity bond generallly covers a corporate policyholder from first party losses arising from the theft of money, securities or other tangible property so if the portal's employees steal the funds belonging to the crowdfunding company, the bond can be useful. However, if there is a claim against the portal for negligence in providing its services as a portal, the more proper insurance policy to apply to this loss is a professional liability insurance.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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Further reading[edit]

Studies and Papers

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